Over and over and over again, I come back to this central conclusion: that writing success is all about having enough product. When I look at the authors I know who are really killing it, almost universally they have more than a dozen titles out under one name and those titles feed into one another.
It is incredibly rare (not impossible, but rare) for an author to be making six figures with just one or two books. I know authors who’ve done it. Who published a title and just seemed to connect to the zeitgeist of the moment and took off.
But the ones who steadily earn well year in and year out tend to be ones with a significant body of work. An oeuvre, as they say. (I tried to use that word years ago on the LSAT and could not for the life of me figure out how to spell it…)
Which makes sense, right? When I was doing the videos for AMS Ads for Authors and Excel for Self-Publishers I kept bumping up against this idea. The the more works you have out there, the more effective and cheaper your advertising per title becomes.
If you have one book to promote, you’re kind of limited in what you can do with it.
Set it to free with nowhere for readers to go and it’s going to fizzle out fast. Not to mention, unless you’re in KU and get page reads, you won’t make anything off of it.
Set it to 99 cents and now you’re making 35 cents a sale which requires some serious volume to make any money worth speaking of. (Again, assuming we’re not talking KU reads to bolster you.)
Plus, then what? So someone reads and likes book 1 and then…That’s it.
They could love you and think you walk on water and are the best author in the world and re-read that book a hundred times and get tattoos on their body inspired by your book, but if there’s nowhere else for them to go, that doesn’t do much for you in terms of paying your bills.
I guess you could do a Patreon or a tip jar, but I like to deliver value for value, you know. So if you’ve just got that one book, you’re very limited in what you can make from it.
We aren’t selling toothpaste here. If you sell toothpaste, you hook a user, you keep your product consistent and your price reasonable, and they’ll buy it for the rest of their lives and you’ll earn $x from that customer every n months from here to eternity on that one product.
But a book sale doesn’t work that way. People usually buy it once. Maybe twice. Maybe three times at most.
Which means you need more product to offer them. You have to keep feeding that hunger. Produce more to please those who like what you’ve already done. (Or find a way to make your books toothpaste…Calendars anyone?)
ANYWAY. Just a fun thought for a windy Tuesday when I have more ideas than time to implement them in.